This is me-just a little bit late

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The past few months have been a bit of a period of changing things around here on the blog, as we had the Carina Countdown, and then we had a month of launch posts. So starting in July, I created a new blogging schedule and recruited some help (in the form of a post from a different acquisitions team member every week). Tuesdays and Wednesdays are dedicated to the authors with releases that week. But Fridays, I’m supposed to blog on Fridays.


I didn’t remember I was supposed to post on Friday until yesterday afternoon. At which point, I figured I might as well save it for today, because what we’d had planned for Mondays hasn’t worked out so well to date either. Running a team blog is a little bit challenging. Running a team blog when even the person running it has memory lapses…even more challenging!

But it’s been awhile since I’ve done any kind of update post, so now seems a good time.

In a very behind-the-scenes update, I’ll tell you that I’m once again getting ready to bring on more new freelance content editors. But unfortunately, this isn’t a job opening call, so don’t send me your resume, okay? I have about five freelancers I’ve been corresponding with over the past few months, while I got to a better place to bring more on (in other words: past launch and the possible loss of my sanity). All of them are experienced editors who somehow came recommended to me by various sources, and they have a wide variety of editorial interests (from fantasy and science fiction to mystery and thrillers). Right now, I’m in the process of updating all of the original materials I had put together for our freelance crew, reviewing processes and making sure that things are clear and understandable, now that I’ve been working with the original crew of freelancers for over six months (my, how time flies!) Once I’ve got everything updated, I’ll be talking with the prospective freelancers more closely to see if their interests and talents mesh with what Carina is looking for, and if we bring any of them onboard, I’ll be sure to introduce them here on the blog so you can continue to get a picture of the Carina freelance editors and their likes/dislikes and experience.

Also always of interest to the authors out there is a submissions update. I don’t actually have one for you right now, so hopefully I can post one this Friday as working on submissions is a major item on my to-do list this week.

In other news, the Carina team is getting geared up for RWA Nationals in Orlando at the end of the month. On my schedule is a workshop on Friday where I’ll be speaking with author Jaci Burton about digital publishing, a Carina Press cocktail party Friday afternoon and the ESPAN inaugural tea where I’m flattered to be the guest speaker. And on Saturday, the Carina Press spotlight. More information on all of those to come in a separate post.

We’ve been acquiring a good number of books–including non-romance books–that we’re very excited about and I’ll have to start posting about those. Maybe on Mondays :P Through November, we’ll continue to release 1-2 books a week. In December, we’re going to be releasing a number of holiday-themed novellas. Then, starting in January, we’ll be increasing releases to 2-3 books/week. We’ve gotten a lot of really excellent submissions.

If you’re interested in sneak peeks of upcoming cover art, I post 2-3 new covers on our Facebook account every Thursday.

Now that we’ve launched, it seems like what’s happening behind-the-scenes should probably have slowed down, but there’s still a lot going on. We’re always thinking and planning the next thing, and looking at what’s working and what’s not.

So tell me, is there anything behind-the-scenes that you’ve been wondering about?

Care for a Drink?

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When I became a full-time freelance editor 2 years ago, I was more excited than I was nervous. Picking my own projects, working in my pajamas, setting my own hours—I was living the dream, right? At the time, I was confident I’d never look back, and for the most part, I didn’t. In fact, there was only one thing I missed about working in an office.

It wasn’t having to resist the temptation of baked goods in the kitchen every week (every office has at least one person whose goal it is to ruin your waistline). It certainly wasn’t the long commute via public transportation whose reliability has only been matched by Twitter’s during the World Cup. It wasn’t even having a tech department only a phone call away, though I almost caved when Microsoft Word started acting up.

No, what I missed about the daily grind was chatting over lunch with my coworkers and being able to call another editor over to help me figure out what was awkward about a sentence. I missed the watercooler discussions that you probably take for granted when you go into the office every day.

Well, when I started working with the Carina editorial freelancers last winter, my prayers were answered. The six months between when I started and the June launch were fast and furious with edits and covers and blurbs—oh my! But it was also such a relief. Because while a tremendous amount of work got done in a short amount of time (my hat’s off to the rest of the Carina staff for pulling it off so effortlessly), there was also a lot of fun had by all. And I definitely got my wish in terms of the watercooler discussions.

Between monthly editorial calls, the editors’ discussion group, and social networking, I’ve chatted with my editorial peers and picked their brains about everything from television to exercise to, of course, books. It’s easy to go word-blind when you read a story three times (or more), as is common during edits, but when I’m having a hard time figuring if a sentence is clear or if a passage is conveying what it’s intended to, I just shoot an e-mail to my fellow freelancers, and voilà, three or four informed opinions in the same amount of time it would have taken me to bend the Chicago Manual of Style’s rules to fit my purpose. When I’m sad about an R&R not coming back, I need only send a message before I have someone to commiserate with. And when I’m procrastinating, the CP staff’s Twitter feeds can always be counted on for a book review that adds to my TBR pile or an article that makes me want a Nook even though I already have a Kobo and a Sony.

And on the flip side, my authors and I have had some diverse and off-the wall conversations as well, and not just book edits and brainstorming projects. While one author and I had an involved discussion on the differences between urban fantasy and paranormal romance, I’d be e-mailing another about whether there’s a moral obligation for heroines in contemporary romances to use protection. Nothing is off-limits, and I love having such a great balance between work and play.

These days, my virtual office watercooler is busier than ever, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. So, feel free to join the discussion by shooting @kaywhyem a message on Twitter or leaving a comment on this post. Whether you want to talk favorite genres (GLBT and medical romance? Yes, please), television (Bones and Top Chef), or punctuation (I’m a fan of the series comma), I’m always at the watercooler and ready for a drink.

“Where no great story goes untold” Yes, really…

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Wait. It’s June already? Back when I started editing for Carina, in December 2009, the 2010 June launch seemed so far away. We had months after all, right? (At this point, I can practically see the tireless, hardworking Carina staff recoiling.)

Oh, my. Time does fly when you’re having fun—or are on a tight deadline.

My background is in traditional print publishing, having spent three years in editorial at a major NYC house followed by almost four years in acquisitions for commercial book clubs. Working for Carina Press marks my first foray into digital-first publishing and, let me tell you, I’m impressed by the range of opportunity it allows for authors and readers alike. One of the hardest things for an editor to say about a book is “I love it, but… (rock stars don’t sell, no one is buying Vikings right now, it crosses too many genres, fill in the blank). Because, yes, the traditional model and marketplace sometimes do impose these kinds of restrictions. Yet, a lesson I learned from my experience selling direct to consumers at the clubs is that there’s a buyer for every book. Cue the Field of Dreams voiceover: If you offer it, they will come…

As an editor, I love Carina’s “no great story goes untold” promise because I feel as if I’ve been let loose. Currently my authors have written such different projects as a Victorian historical, fun women’s fiction, romantic suspense with paranormal elements, an erotic shifter menage, first-person romantic suspense, and a novella I can only describe as having a traditional Regency sensibility with a threesome twist. And that’s just my list. The editorial staff has a wide range of interests and it’s reflected in the books they’re drawn to. I’m constantly surprised by the diversity of stories than come into our submissions inbox and out of our acquisitions meetings. As a reader, I’ve already started a greedy little (or, rather long) list of Carina books I want. As both, I’m hoping the sheer enthusiasm behind this new venture is contagious, and I’m excited to see where Carina books and authors will take us next. Here’s to variety as the next big trend in genre publishing.

You can follow Gina on Twitter

Meet me in Birmingham

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Come to Southern Magic’s June 26 meeting at the Homewood Publc Library to hear Angela James, Executive Editor of Carina Press, talk about e-publishing.

It doesn’t matter if you’re published or not, or if you ever plan to be e-published, you need to listen to what she has to say. This is the future and you need to be informed and aware of what’s happening around you.


When: June 26, 2010, from 2:00pm to 4:00pm

Where: Round Auditorium at the Homewood Public Library, Birmingham, Alabama

Southern Magic will provide a dessert table and coffee.

Registration is mandatory by contacting Callie James at Otherwise, we cannot guarantee you a seat.

Attendance is free for Southern Magic members, $5 for other RWA chapter members, and $10 for the public. Pay at the door.

PROGRAM: Angela James discusses the ins and outs of e-publishing, including what to expect from an epublisher, how to distinguish between unfunded or under-funded epubs, the real sales figures, what constitutes good distribution, covers, promotion, and more. We will have Q&A time available throughout the program.

More about Angela James:
Executive editor of Carina Press, Harlequin’s digital-first press, and veteran of the digital publishing industry, Angela James is a well-known advocate for digital publishing. James has enjoyed a long and varied publishing career that has included ownership of an independent editorial services business, work as a copy editor for electronic book and small press publisher, Ellora’s Cave, and executive editor for Samhain Publishing. James frequently travels to regional, national and international writing conferences to meet with authors and readers, and present workshops on digital publishing for both authors and readers of all genres of fiction.

Carina Press is a new digital-first publisher that combines editorial and marketing expertise with the freedom of digital publishing. With a long history of digital marketing and editorial experience, the Carina Press team is committed to bringing readers fresh voices and new, unique editorial.

Our philosophy is: no great story should go untold!

Carina Press will publish a broad range of fiction with an emphasis on romance and its subgenres. We will also acquire voices in mystery, suspense and thrillers, science fiction, fantasy, erotica, gay/lesbian, and more!

Southern Magic is the Birmingham, Alabama, chapter of the Romance Writers of America.
Meetings held at Homewood Public Library
1721 Oxmoor Road, Homewood, AL 35209

Breaking the Mold

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It’s been an intense and wonderful half year getting ready for launch. I love working with the CP team. I’m thrilled with the quality of our book covers and the attention to detail that goes into every aspect of the process. But what I like best are our great stories, and the rich variety of genres, tone and content.

I joined Angie James’s editorial staff in late 2009. I’d worked for Angie before, so I went into this venture with a good idea of the high standards she’d set and the type of rigorous editing processes she’d require. What I wasn’t prepared for was the avalanche of submissions Carina Press would receive. For months it felt as though I did nothing but read ms submissions and prepare reader reports.

I love having the freedom to acquire in any genre and, apparently, so do authors. Carina Press is looking for good stories for adult readers, period. Any genre of commercial fiction, genre mix, heat level or length, from short story to epic novel. We’re not acquiring only the hottest-selling genres, and we’re not boxing our authors into predictable storylines or structures. This freedom has attracted a wide variety of talented authors to send us their mss from the day we opened for submissions.

The backgrounds of the authors we’ve contracted run the gamut. Some have successful print careers but wrote a book of their heart which couldn’t find a home elsewhere. Megan Hart’s Exit Light is paranormal women’s fiction, not romance. It isn’t like any other story I’ve read before, but I love the heroine of this powerful, inventive, emotional story. Carrie Lofty’s historical romance Song of Seduction is set during the Napoleonic Wars—the same time period as Regency England, but in Salzburg, not London. And the hero is a Dutch composer… If you read this novel, you won’t find familiar Almack’s scenes, but instead you’ll get a unique romance filled with music and passion. Reviewers love it and we trust that our readers will too.

It’s been a delight to work with such experienced, professional authors. At the other end of the spectrum has been the fun of working with shiny-new debut authors such as Ginny Glass and Jenny Schwartz. Their enthusiasm alone has made the long hours leading up to launch worth it. Jenny’s paranormal romance about a djinni, The Price of Freedom, breaks the “rules” in another way by opening in the viewpoint of a supporting character. Ginny’s erotic story Coin Operated is BDSM-themed but you won’t find a club scene, leather whip or handcuff inside.

Even when writing in more popular genres, Carina’s authors put a twist on them. In Dee Tenorio’s super-sexy Tempting the Enemy, the werewolves are losing a battle against the combined might of humans and psychic mercenaries. The shifter in Inez Kelley’s lush fantasy romance Salome at Sunrise is a hawk. Bonnie Dee re-imagines Tarzan as gay in her steamy m/m historical Jungle Heat. Clare London’s passionate m/m mystery Blinded by Our Eyes (coming in July) isn’t structured like a traditional whodunit, focusing instead on the psychological aspects of love and murder. The PI hero of Shirley Wells’s clever mystery Presumed Dead (July) is a terrible husband and a chauvinist, but I’ve never rooted harder for a hero.

Have a story that breaks the mold? Submit it to Carina Press. Like reading something beyond the norm? Browse our store…

You can follow Deborah on Twitter

Setting the stage

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Well hello there! I’m not totally sure if you’ve heard yet, but something exciting happened for us yesterday. Yep, Apple announced the new iPhone 4 and iOS4. Whoohoo! Oh, right, and the new Carina Press website also launched and the first ten books became available for sale. There was also that too. Ha.

You’ve all been taking this journey with us these past months, watching as we shared some of what went on behind the scenes, how we built the press, the authors and books we were signing and how some of our processes were being implemented. Someone told me we made it look easy, possibly too easy, but I assure you that it was not easy. Long hours, minor hiccups, deadline fears and worries, and lots and lots of teamwork went into getting Carina launch ready (oh, and possibly a few martinis and glasses of wine, whenever we got together in person!) Challenging?  Definitely. Easy? Um. No. But totally worth all the effort!

The enthusiastic response we’ve received from all of you has been so gratifying, and the feedback we’ve received so far on the site is very appreciated. We’ll be working (okay, especially Eleanor will be working) in the coming weeks to continue to update and improve the site. While we can’t implement every feature people have requested, your feedback is not going into a vacuum and we’re taking careful note of what you are asking for, and looking at how we can improve to meet your requests.

In the meantime, I feel like plenty of attention has been paid to my part in this launch, and certainly I’m an open book on Twitter if you wonder if I celebrated with champagne (the answer is: not yet) but there were a large number of team members behind the launch of Carina, and while you’ve gotten to hear from some of them early in Carina’s opening stages, last winter, I thought it would be best if you could hear from some of those editors and staff members who’ve made Carina happen. So, starting tomorrow and for the next several weeks as we continue with our month-long launch, I’m going to be posting several posts a week from our team members, to help you get to know them! In the meantime…welcome to a new day in genre publishing. I hope you enjoy it as much as we do!

We’re halfway there! Let me update you…

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Did you miss me? It’s been a little strange not reporting every week on what’s going on behind the scenes. But we’re at the halfway point and launch is just a few weeks away. I have this wonderful combination of excitement, anxiety and joy that I experience when I think about launch day. We’ve all invested so much in Carina, it’s definitely a business to love given the mix of behind-the-scenes, amazing staff and the raw talent of the authors. I suppose it’s a little like introducing your family to your new significant other. You want them to love them, admire them and appreciate their great points as much as you do.

This past week, I started to get caught up on submissions but got sidelined by a trip to Toronto that I just returned from last night. I won’t be heading back to Toronto again until September, as summer conferences (and hopefully a summer vacation!) will be taking up my travel time. Plus, it’s the summer, I plan to be on the beach as much as possible, watching my family try to kill themselves on boogie boards while I read as many books as I possibly can.

Things have been pretty crazy in Carina-land. Even though all of you are still looking to launch and (hopefully) anticipating launch books, we’re now looking at August and forward production schedules. We’re talking marketing going forward, we’re discussing where the readers are and how we can continue to reach out to them. Working towards launch was the easy part (insert hysterical laughter here) now we have to grow, build and expand! In fact, in the interest of expanding, I’ve once again been speaking with a few new potential editors!

The rest of this week, I’m dedicating to (finally) getting caught up on submissions (and other email) I will tell you this, though…we have now met the 1000 submissions received and read mark! I think that’s pretty amazing for a new imprint that hasn’t published any books yet and that only opened its doors in November, don’t you? This has allowed us to start setting our production schedules for this fall with an amazing variety of romance, mystery, fantasy and other fiction. I personally have been reading a LOT of novella submissions because I find them easy to get through, and I’ve contracted four just in the past two weeks from all of my reading. So if you have a novella, any fiction genre (except YA) I hope you’ll consider sending it my way. We’re also seeking erotic romance of any length for publication in Fall 2010. Something spicy, whether it’s m/f, m/m, m/m/f or any combination thereof. Any kink, and yes, BDSM is welcome. There’s something spectacular about well-written BDSM!

We have a few more posts coming today, including one from Eleanor Elliot about our “new” website and one where I tell you about our Romantic Times 2010 experience and share some video. But before I go, I want to take a quick minute to point out a few new features here on the blog. Some of you asked for the ability to search just the blog, and that feature has been added, as has subscribe to comments and the ability to repost the blog to various social medias. If there’s any other features you think are still missing, give a yell.

As a quick update about upcoming appearances, I’ll be at the Lori Foster Get Together in Cincinnati in June, where I’ll be speaking about Carina and digital publishing. If you’ll be there, please come and say hello. And also in June I’ll be in Birmingham, Alabama speaking to the local RWA chapter and answering all of their questions about being an author and publishing in the digital age. If you live nearby, please think about driving up and joining us for the day.

In the meantime, it’s been awhile, so let’s chat. You’ve heard from half of the launch authors so far, what books are on your Carina Press wishlist for this June?

Marie Force Interviews Editor Jessica Schulte

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I first “met” my new Carina editor, Jessica Schulte, in February when she emailed to request some revisions to my book Fatal Affair. Since the book was acquired later in February, we’ve worked together on revisions and line edits and had a good time getting to know each other. She is a treat to work with and has a great sense of humor. Well, after you read our interview, you won’t need me to tell you that!

Marie: Tell me about your career in publishing and how you came to be involved with Carina Press.

Jessica: I came to publishing after getting my master’s degree in dramatic criticism from Columbia University. I love how theatre tells stories so directly–it’s a connection, I think to oral story telling. It just resonates on a very primal level. What I loved about studying dramatic literature and writing about productions, was that it allowed me to really investigate the craft and understand why and how plays worked (or didn’t!) LOL! Of course, with plays there are other elements that affect the overall outcome and effect, i.e. lighting, sets, costumes, direction and acting. There are so many variables in theatre; it’s very exciting and it’s why one production is never like another.

But with books it’s just the author and the reader. It’s very intimate and immediate storytelling, a partnership almost. And the

I know you’re somewhat new to the romance genre, so what is the most interesting thing you’ve learned about romance since joining Carina?

Jessica: Oh, boy. I think a good editor, (and a good writer) is always learning—but I just love the story telling in romance novels. I love the twists and turns, and uh, well, the romance. I’m also thrilled by how eagerly romance readers have adopted the digital medium. I am really enjoying exploring websites and forums where readers and writers passionately hold forth. I adore (and their book, Beyond Heaving Bosoms), as someone new to the genre they let me know that a wicked sense of humor was a good thing to bring to the genre.

Marie: We’ve had some fun while editing my book, Fatal Affair. You confessed to me that you might be slightly (okay totally, but this is a family show) in love with my hero Nick… What do you love about Nick and what makes you fall in love with a hero?

Jessica: Ohhhh! I really do love Nick.He has real heart.He’s devastated by what’s happened but he’s still so open to the possibilities around him. And he’s not afraid to make a fool of himself or to apologize. And he’s a terrific lover. He’s so much like my husband, that I just can’t resist him. (Hi, honey!!)

I think I fall in love a little bit with all the characters in books that I edit. Even the bad guys. When a book works you just fall in to that world and you love being there with everyone.

Marie: I’m SO glad you love Nick, and I adore your reasons! Hopefully, readers will fall in love with him, too! Next questions: What’s your favorite book? Movie? TV show? And, since you live in New York City, Broadway show?

Jessica: This is one of my worst subjects. Ever. I I can’t pick a favorite color, either. Oh, sheesh. I just can’t pick. I can’t. Please don’t make me. I have a special place for YA and middle grade novels and am loving Rhonda Stapleton’s Stupid Cupid right now. It’s so fun!!  But I also love Kathi Appelt’s The Underneath, and Suzanne Collins The Hunger Games series. They are fun, too, but in a completely different way. I have a real weakness for Rogers and Hammerstein, Rodgers and Hart, Lerner and Lowe, and Sondheim musicals. It is a great sorrow to me that I can’t sing. And since I worked on The Secret Garden, that show has a very special place in my heart.

As for TV, full disclosure: I still miss The Gilmore Girls and am THRILLED that Lauren Graham is back on weekly TV. There, I’ve said it.

Marie: I’ve discovered there’s a 14-year-old girl lurking inside you! How do you like to spend your free time?

Jessica: Oh, there’s definitely a 14-year old girl lurking not that secretly inside me. When I was a kid, I really wanted to be  Dr. Dolittle, and so I spent my time surrounded by as many animals as my parents would allow. And now that I’m supposed to be a grown up and live in an apartment, I can’t have as many animals as I wish, but I am also a dog trainer so I get to work with dogs and their people and compete with my dog in agility, competition obedience, and Rally-O. We’re also learning Freestyle. If you’re interested in what that is, check out I promise, you won’t be sorry.

And yes, musical theatre alert!I also knit and make jewelry when I am just hanging out watching TV.

Marie: What makes a submission stand out to you?

Jessica: I am looking for stories that suck me in and don’t let me go. I love when the heroine is struggling with issues and the answers come after some real deep soul-searching. And I love to laugh. So if those things are combined I am in heaven. I love historical romances when I am taken to new worlds (even if it’s a familiar period) and learn new things. And I love stories where characters have a bond with pets, especially dogs.

Thanks to Jessica for answering my questions! It was fun to get to know her better!

You can follow Jessica on Twitter

Angela’s note: Feel free to ask Jessica questions in the comments and we’ll get her to come by and answer them!

Week 19…production schedules are scary

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You almost got quite a unique post yesterday. See, the link to this blog’s admin page is right next to the link for a cooking/craft blog I post on during the week. On Sundays, I post a weekly menu post and somehow, I wrote that post on THIS blog. The only thing that stopped me from publishing it was that I went looking for the picture that goes with that post every week and instead I found…cover art. Ha! But I’ll bet some of you would have been okay with a weekly menu post!

Anyway, last week was one of those weeks where you just know you’re not going to get everything done (okay, okay, all my weeks are like that right now, can you relate?) but I focused on two things that were of immediate importance: our production schedule and submissions.

First, the production schedule. See, we do have a plan for launch. Even though we’re not sharing a lot of public details about it yet, or giving a specific June date for launch, we do have a plan. But before we commit publically to our plan, we have to know that we’re going to be able to deliver. And that means weekly meetings about the production schedule. And in the case of last week? Two meetings. Can we meet editorial and production deadlines? Can we get the material we need, get the books finalized, get our eyes on them and get them to be formatted by the deadline? These are the questions that came down to the wire last week, and I spent a lot of time emailing with the editors, getting answers on projected dates and return times and figuring out: can it be done because this is it.

The ultimate answer is: holy cow are the freelance editors we’re using amazing! Seriously, utterly amazing. They’re busting it double time to get things done so we can meet all deadlines and follow through on our grand plan. And not a few of the copy editors have also said, “yes, I can get this done sooner”. They all rock, I’m lucky to have gathered such a great group of professionals. So yep, much to my relief (no really, you don’t know how relieved) it looks like we’re going to do it. In a few weeks, we’ll be ready to announce more specific details of launch and gear up for June. Whee!

Second, submissions. I want to start out submissions by mentioning that I hired another editor last week because we have such amazing submissions rolling in, I needed another person to help us start going through them and taking on the task of guiding them through edits. I’m happy to welcome Charlotte Herscher, who has extensive editing background in traditional pub settings. You’ll get to learn more about Charlotte, and the other editors, in the coming weeks as we start editor interviews!

Anyway, submissions got a massive update Thursday and Friday, and if you missed it, here’s the post with that update. I’d love to do a more detailed post about genres we’re seeing (and the most common words used in titles, just for giggles) but that’s going to have to wait a bit. I will say that we’re seeing a good bit of historical coming through, which I think is probably thanks to the targeting we did for them. Now it’s time to to start talking about the next genre we want to focus on!

Also last week, we sent out prelim cover copy to authors and editors, and got their feedback. After it has a visit with the copy editor, we’ll be able to share that with you. Anyone interested in seeing a few more covers? I have some I could share this week.

Stay tuned tomorrow: two authors need your help. Two authors, one hero. What should his name be? You help settle the feud!

Thinking about query letters. Part I: Query don’ts.

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Last week I got a query letter that had me so taken aback, I Twittered about how I wished I could share it. Not to humiliate or ridicule the author in any way, but because I would love to talk about all the reasons it was full of query don’ts, and offer you concrete, real-time examples. In mulling this over, I’ve decided to do a list of query letter don’ts and a list of query letter do’s (list of query do’s to come tomorrow). Since it’s unlikely I can offer a snippet from an actual letter, without making someone feel as though they’ve been made a target, I’ll use paraphrased examples when necessary.


1. Start with a rhetorical question

I see a lot of editors and agents mention this. The reasons are varied, but ultimately it comes down to this: What if the editor or agent’s answer to the question is NO? Is No what you really want them to have in mind when they begin your query?

Example (not real but similar to some I’ve had): Have you ever wondered why time doesn’t run backward? Not only is the answer no, but now I’m wondering why I’d wonder this, and I’m not thinking about the query or concentrating on the details, but I might now be wondering why I’d care why time doesn’t run backward. And perhaps thinking how this sounds like something my five year old would ask. But I’m not thinking about the query.

2. Tell the editor/agent how you know there are submission guidelines but you’re not going to follow them.

Example (paraphrased): I know there are submissions guidelines but I didn’t follow them this time because I’m different.

What do I hear? “I’m more important than you, I’m going to disregard what you suggest when we work together, and clearly I know better than you.” Not only that, but I hear how little respect the author has for me and that it doesn’t matter to them that there are very good reasons I have guidelines. Also? I’m probably hearing the blood rushing in my ears as I get just a little angry.

3. Send a blanket email to every publisher/editor/agent all at once.

You know, as in don’t just throw it out there at everyone and see what sticks. Doing this makes it impossible to personalize the query and tailor it to the person/company you’re sending to, and thus makes your query one of the crowd rather than standing out.

But even worse? When you send it to 50 of us at once and do it in a way that it’s not bcc–we can see every one of the other 49 email addresses you’ve sent it to. It shows, again, a lack of effort and interest in the process.

4. Include details of your family life/personal life/how you’ve wanted to write since you were five.

Tell us only the things that are going to sell your book. Think of us as the first readers you’re trying to sell to. If you were trying to convince a reader to buy your book, would you include a story about how you own five dogs, two cats, a goldfish named Sally? Possibly if your book is a mystery about a petstore owner, but even then…probably not. Because it’s not important information in the marketing of your book to readers, and it’s not important in the querying of your manuscript to editors and agents. It just makes your query letter longer, takes the focus off your book and allows us the opportunity to let our attention wander from your query.

5. Send a query letter that says only: manuscript and synopsis attached.

Not even bothering with a query letter means 1) that I’m going to suspect you’re too lazy to go to the effort of writing even a short query letter and therefore will probably only do the minimum amount of work in response to edits or to market your book and I don’t want to work with an author who’s going to do minimal or no work. 2) That I have to do more work and spend more time figuring out the basics of your query and so you don’t respect that my time is limited and of value. 3) That you really don’t care whether I take a look at your book or not, if you’re not even going to take some basic steps to convince me I should.

Plus? Some editors/agents don’t open attachments. Oops!

6. Address it to “whom it may concern”

On our FAQ page, I give a few suggestions for who you can address the letter to, since authors have no idea which of the editors will be seeing their manuscript. I do this because I know many authors stress over how to address the letter, and while I do like a personalized letter and you should use one as often as possible when sending to specific individuals (for instance, people who read our blog have been addressing their queries to specific editors who said they were looking for a certain genre), there are times when a specific address isn’t possible. However “to whom it may concern” is not even making an effort to personalize it. It’s more of a copy and paste effect. Possibly “Hey you” is the only thing worse. Dear editors or something similar at least lets us know you’re not sending the exact same query letter to every agent, publisher and editor out there. Again, it’s about the effort, however subtle, that we see being put into the query.

7. Send a letter with another publisher’s (editor’s/agent’s) info in the body of the query letter.

Oof. Look, we don’t expect that we’re the sole person or publisher you want to work with, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t make us feel as though you’re really interested in working with us and not just whatever editor, agent or publisher you can get to take you or your book.

8. Say that you were recommended by one of our authors, fellow editors or agents without their permission.

No no no no. Don’t be name dropping or saying someone suggested you to us unless you’ve asked permission and are fully prepared for us to follow up and ask that person about you. Just don’t.

9. Query for a genre the person you’re querying doesn’t publish.

Because that’s just silly. Why waste your time? (or theirs?)

10. Forget to include the pertinent information.

I’m always amazed at how verbose query letters can be without imparting information that’s relevant and necessary: title, genre, length, completed or not and a short (short) description of the book. Also, if you have a special affinity for the subject (for example, if you’re an ex-FBI agent and you’re writing a romantic suspense) then that might be considered pertinent info as well. These are the things we want and need to know about the book, not whether your critique partners really loved it!

Also, don’t forget to include your contact information. Real name, address, and phone number so we can contact you, if, you know, we want to publish your book. And include this information on your synopsis and manuscript as well.

11. Address your query to dear agent if it’s going to an editor (and vice versa).

(and don’t tell a publisher/editor that you’re hoping they’ll agree to represent them because we won’t).

12. Don’t send any query, ever, without looking at the submissions/query guidelines for the person or place you’re sending it.

Most of what I said above can be encapsulated down to this: friends don’t let friends send queries without reading the guidelines first!

But since you’re all reading this, I’ll be you already knew this stuff already.